Wayne Hogan is glad to partner with Mayor Alvin Brown to support Waterproof Jacksonville, a citywide campaign to prevent accidental drowning by teaching children to swim.
Doubling the number of lessons
This year Waterproof Jacksonville will expand free swim lessons to students attending summer school at Woodland Acres Elementary as well as to 150 dependents of active military personnel, thanks to a donation from Jacksonville personal injury attorney Wayne Hogan. Hogan’s support will enable JaxParks to double the number of free swim lessons provided this summer.
“We live in a beautiful city, surrounded by water, our beaches, the St. Johns River, with pools and creeks and lakes and ponds throughout our neighborhoods. Sadly, Florida keeps getting ranked number one in drowning deaths for young children. Two-thirds of those tragic losses happen between May-August. Teaching kids to swim can change those statistics, but this is not about numbers. This is about each child we can reach, each child we teach. A life lost because a child doesn’t know how to swim is a family and a community tragedy,” Hogan said.
“This is not just a matter of improving quality of life, this about saving lives, and it is a great opportunity for us to step in and show our young people how much we care about them,” Mayor Brown said. “This is critical for a city like Jacksonville with all the water that surrounds us. We have beaches, rivers, creeks, ponds, swimming pools and spas that all pose a potential danger to anyone who cannot swim. Waterproof Jacksonville is helping our most vulnerable residents – our children – learn to swim so they will be safe around water.”
To date, the programs partners have committed to providing beginner swim lessons to about 1,500 children, including about 400 Woodland Acres students and 150 military dependents. The Police Athletic League is funding swim lessons for 200 PAL participants. JaxParks, through funding assistance from Safe Kids Northeast Florida, is offering lessons for about 450 youth. The YMCA will provide lessons for another 300, including 50 military dependents. Other partners are also providing lessons. Participants must provide proof of financial need based on participation in the free and reduced lunch program.
“That’s 1,500 young people who might never have gotten the chance to learn – and 1,500 young people who are now going to be safer because dedicated groups and individuals have committed time and money to help them learn to swim,” Mayor Brown said.
Waterproof Jacksonville is a partnership with Safe Kids Northeast Florida, the City of Jacksonville and several recognized swim organizations that joined forces last year in a commitment to provide free swim lessons to youth who may not otherwise be able to afford them. Waterproof Jacksonville will also help raise awareness of water safety and to reduce accidental drowning, which is the leading cause of death in Florida for children under age 5 and the second leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1–14. The accidental drowning rate for African American children is three times that of whites.
Waterproof Jacksonville ultimately provides more opportunities for people to get out and enjoy Jacksonville’s parks and waterways. Knowing how to swim and be safe around water makes enjoying Jacksonville’s great amenities even better.
A partnership that can grow
“That’s why I support Jax Park’s Waterproof Jacksonville partnership with Duval County Public Schools. This will double the number of kids who will learn to swim this summer. That’s the goal. I encourage businesses and civic groups to sponsor swim lessons at our schools. Let’s grow this partnership and protect even more kids in our community,” Hogan said.